Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 19 – London - Tuesday, January 21st 2014: FINAL DAY

Today is the last of our European adventure. It again started with a hearty breakfast and then the now familiar packing of our bags ready to move. However this time we were to store our bags for the day as we were not leaving till the evening to catch our flight.
We again divided into groups to do different things in this big city of London. My merry band went to the British Museum, which was only about a block away from our hotel.

The boys walking to the Museum (James attempting to move faster than the speed of light)

The British Museum

The British has many famous and important and interesting artefacts and treasures, one that the boys found very interesting was “sort of” featured in a recent movie.

The famous Crystal Skull. Now proved to be a fake.

However one of our group (Christian) insisted on singing the Indiana Jones theme song till after several minutes he was “threatened” by the rest of the group. A golden calm returned.
One of the most important and famous pieces in the Museum collection is the Rosetta Stone. This was the item that Champollion was able to use to finally decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphs.   

The Rosetta Stone

The Egyptian collection is wide and varied, and the boys had a lot of different things to look at.

Jack, Christian, James, Carey, Liam, Julius and Robert with a new friend. The god Horus.

The group again this time with a Scarab Beetle. James seem particularly attached to it for some reason?

A rather large King

A rather beautiful statue

The group again minus Jack who must have gone AWOL      

One of the great gates of at Assyrian Empire

The British Empire at one time covered much of the world. They seemed to have the philosophy that if it was takeable then let’s take it!

“Ooh here’s a nice Greek temple….let’s take it home!”

One of several hundred perfect ancient Grecian urs and various other pottery items.

The multiple items in the Middle ages area was astounding also.

Medieval floor tiles used in high status dwellings or Cathedrals        

Robert and Jack looking at a relic from Ur

Eventually everyone was exhausted from the massive amount of walking we had done in this huge and amasing Museum. It was drawing close to the time we had to get back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. However on the way back we saw a very different sight. A store established in 1830 that produces and sell Umbrellas’ and walking sticks. This was seen as a bit humorous till it was ascertained that the average Umbrella was around $600 and there were $1000 walking sticks with solid silver heads.

The bus arrived early and we were off to Heathrow. Now this airport can be very trying, it is after all one of the busiest in the world. However this time we went through with surprising ease. Fortunately there were even more shops for our weary travellers to spend more money. Eventually we were able to go to the departure lounge to await boarding.

We are now aboard a great big Airbus 380, and big it is! However we are about as aft as you can get as we are sitting in the very back rows of seats. We have been in the air for 3.5 hrs and we still have 9 hrs of flying time to go. I will send in this last instalment of our travels when we arrive in Singapore.

It has been a very tiring and busy 3 weeks, but it has also been a very eventful and stimulating time as well. The boys have eaten a LOT of every type of food you can imagine, especially pizza. They have been exposed to places where English is not the normal language and to items and places they have only seen on TV or read about in books. From now on when something is aired about places we have been they will now be able to say “I’ve been there”.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 18 – London - Monday, January 20th 2014: Julius Rohrlach

Today a small group of boys, led by Mrs Vial, visited the Madame Tussauds wax museum. We all ventured bravely into the unknown, finding ourselves invited to a ‘party’ full of world famous actors, all strangely made of wax…

 The museum was amazing; lifelike statues of people, previously only seen by us on the TV or Movies screen. Suddenly, they were standing in front of us, making strange poses that gestured us to take photos with them.

While inside, we met many famous people, such as Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, James Bond, Shrek and even the Queen. Inside the museum there was a new exhibition, ‘Marvel Characters’, in which we saw a life-size Hulk who was angrily in the process of smashing apart the Marvel exhibit. Iron man and Wolverine were also both there.

After the wax museum, we took a short trip down the road to 221 B Baker Street, the house/museum of the great Sherlock Holmes. Inside the seemingly TARDIS like house (larger on the inside) we were met by Sherlock himself, an array of characters from the books and movies and the author of the books himself and iconic pieces of clothing and items, such as Sherlock’s Deerstalker hat, infamous pipe and magnifying glass. Later on we made our way to Harrods, the David Jones EXTREME, where sales of Porsches and Caviar are common, and jackets for enormous sums of money ($5600 +) and working toy cars for well over 30k are all the norm

Julius Rohrlach (Yr 10).

Day 18 – London - Monday, January 20th 2014: Carey Taylor & Robert Harrison

Mr Scritchley and Mr O’Brien took a group of around 10 of us to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in Hendon. All of us enjoyed seeing many of the older planes as well as many newer aircraft. Planes from WW1 and WW2 made a smashing appearance in the way they were displayed. Some of these planes included the P51-Mustang and a Lancaster which played a great role during the Dambuster’s era.

For the younger audiences there was a flight simulator which provided an experience of flying in a Tornado fighter. We spent many hours looking at aircraft and listening to Mr Scritchley prattle on about all the planes we saw. Overall, the day was amazing for all of us: great souvenirs and a wonderful experience really made our days.

Carey Taylor and Robert Harrison (Yrs. 10 and 11) 

Day 18 – London - Monday, January 20th 2014: James Cicogna

Today we went on a tour of one of the greatest cricket grounds in the world. Lords is the home of cricket and the ashes. Being Australian and given the Australian cricket team are doing so well we weren’t very popular around the people. We were able to see the ashes, and even though it is now ours, it is no longer moved from the Lords museum because it is over 100 years old and very fragile. We also saw the away rooms where the Australians sat when they played England. Strangely, it was a very small room/balcony and does not provide a great view.
I was really thrilled to visit Lords, as it is a place I have always wanted to see.

James Cicogna (Yr 11)

Day 18 – London - Monday, January 20th 2014: Tania Vial

I have to laugh…I have just read Jim’s written account of his room in Bath. Let me assure you, he is not exaggerating. In fact, I would say that he has down- played his accommodation (if you can call it that) there, and of course, Jim’s rendition of Quasimodo was to die for…..always the comic! Many of you may not know that Jim was once part of an amateur acting company. In some ways, I think he has missed his calling, although he has transferred many of these skills to his teaching career.

Today, we did the Madame Tussauds thing and again did a lot of walking. My small group walked across Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace and then to Harrods; a glorious store, but like everything in England….very expensive.

Tonight, two of the boys were keen on going shopping, so some time was spent ushering them to various stores.

It’s hard to believe our trip ends tomorrow. It has been a whirlwind tour of Europe, but very much a worthwhile one for the boys and girls who have taken part. I am sure they will look back fondly at this time in years to come.

Tomorrow, my group of boys will be doing the shopping run and this means we won’t need to go far as we are virtually on the doorstep of the main shopping zone. (Oxford and Regent streets)

Having returned from our meal at a nearby restaurant and having seconded a few boys to write a few words for the blog, I am now very much ready for bed.

Not looking forward to the 27 or so hour long stretch it will take to arrive home, but it will be nice to be back home and in my own bed…Very much looking forward to a good night’s sleep!!!

Tania Vial

Day 18 – London - Monday, January 20th 2014

Today I took my group of students to the RAF Museum at Hendon. Those of you who know me would be aware that this is a dream trip for me, and I had an excited group of boys who also are keen on aeroplanes. There are so many aircraft at the Museum that I could bore all of you silly with multiple pictures and explanations. So I will instead give you the highlights.
We started with the first world war and the Graham White hangar is full of these early aircraft.

Mr O’Brien and an Albatross V

Carey and a Sopwith 11/2 Strutter.

Once we finished with WW1 the next hangar contained aircraft specifically associated with the Battle of Britain. There were Spitfires, Heinkel’s and Messerschmitt’s. as well as other aircraft of the period.

Jack with a Westland Lysander (these were used to fly into and land in occupied Europe to drop and pick up agents.

The last hangar / Pavilion contained a huge array of various types and period aircraft.

A Sopwith Camel “diving” at us.

One of the most Historic aeroplanes in the collection is S for Sugar, a Lancaster bomber that has the distinction of having completed 137 missions. This is amasing considering the average life expectancy of a Lancaster at the height of the bomber offensive was about 10 missions. It has a real Australian connection as it was flown for the last part of its service by 467 Squadron RAAF.

The boys with S for Sugar

There are also more modern aircraft there as well. There is an example of one of the RAF’s V bomber series. The Avro Vulcan.

Some of the boys and the Vulcan

The museum also has a lot of engines on display so for the “Rev Heads” amongst you here is one of the most impressive. This is the 3,500 horse power (yes 3,500) Napier Sabre engine. It had an “H” configuration (2X12 Cylinder horizontally opposed banks)

The Napier Sabre “H” 24 3,500Bhp engine

Some entered into the spirit of the exhibition more fully than others.

Brandon having fun!!

The boys looking into the cockpit of the beautiful Hawker Hunter.

Matthew with a Curtis Kitty hawk. A lot of Australians flew these in both the African deserts and New Guinea

Once we had toured through the whole museum then there was the Gift Shop to get through. Some parents will discover that some (or none, including myself) did not get through the store unscathed. I think we all had an excellent day!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 17 – London - Sunday, January 19th 2014: Emmanuele Juan

On this sunny Sunday morning in London, one of the three groups walked to one of the city centres of London called Trafalgar Square.  After a few camera shots of this beautiful city centre, the adventure continued on and we saw a few infamous monuments of London: Big Ben and the London Eye. We headed on our way to go on the “muggle tour” which is based on the famous fantasy movie series of Harry Potter and ‘Muggle’ meaning a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and skills. The tour guide ‘John Lupin,’ an actor by profession, was outstanding and brought the whole tour to life. You could tell he is one of the obsessive fans of the Harry Potter series. Following the tour guide, the group went out to Covent Garden for lunch.

Emmanuele Juan (Yr 10)

Day 17 – London - Sunday, January 19th 2014: Georgina Meggetto

We started off our journey to London in Bath with a quick guided tour. The tour took us around the city centre and surrounding land marks highlighting the Roman history and influence in architecture. While the tour was quick, it was very enjoyable and gave us some knowledge on the history of Bath.

Day London – Muggle tour

On our first day in London, 3 groups went their separate way. One group decided to go on a Muggle Tour, a guided tour of different Harry Potter film locations and areas which inspired the books. Our very eccentric guide was entertaining and gave us great knowledge on Harry Potter facts. After the tour we walked over to Covent Gardens for lunch and a quick bit of shopping. Following our lunch break we made our way to the London Eye where we took the journey around the famous Ferris wheel where the view was spectacular. While the others were on the ferris wheel, some chose to watch local street performers. We then headed to Kings Cross station to see platform 9 ¾ made famous by Harry Potter.
 After taking many photos and making a stop at the Harry Potter store we made our way home to the hotel.

Georgina Meggetto (Kildare)

Day 17 – London - Sunday, January 19th 2014: Tania Vial

You could mistakenly think English is not the dominant language here in London; there are so many foreigners who can be heard speaking different languages. In fact, tonight in Starbucks, in an attempt to find free internet usage, I had to ask 6 different people, before stumbling across one who could speak English.
The boys have enjoyed making their selections on where to go in London and have 3 days of this during our stay here.

Tania Vial

Day 17 – London - Sunday, January 19th 2014

Today we split into different groups as there are so many things to do it is impossible to do everything, unless you have a month to spare.

My group decided to use the “Hop on Hop off” Bus around London to see all of the main sights. There are a couple of bus companies that do this and either of them is very good, and they cover the same territory. We “Hopped” on and went down to Piccadilly Circus. Then “Hopped off” to have a look at the statue of Eros.

The statue of Eros dominates the Square. The 1st Pic shows the neon signs behind and the over exposed one shows the detail of Eros. (It was still rather dim at 9:30am and bitterly cold)

It is said that if you wait long enough in the Circus you will eventually meet someone you know. This started in WW2 when the area was a central point for Allied Servicemen.

On to another bus and the grand tour began. The places we went to were….

1/ Trafalgar Square

Note the big Blue chook (Rooster) You may well ask why this is in this famous place…the answer is “I don’t know”.

Often they temporarily put new art work in the square. I am assuming this falls under that category.

 Christian, Julius and Carey “contemplate” the significance of…the blue chook! (I know it shook them deeply)

As we crossed the square the bells of St Martins in the Field began tolling calling the parishioners to gather. We briefly went inside to see the church. It is a plain but warm place and it was interesting to see that there was quite a number of people gathered already.

The National Gallery on the left and St Martins in the Field facing the camera with Linda in the foreground, and Nelson on his Colum

We walked through the square and down to The Strand and re-caught the bus. We drove past the Courts of Justice till we saw St Pauls come into view with its great dome appearing.

The dome of St Pauls appearing at the end of The Strand.

A side view of St Pauls

It was only minutes till another landmark came into view, Tower Bridge. The cameras clicked excitedly.

Tower Bridge from New London Bridge (The previous one is in America)
Julius taking a pic of the Bridge

Soon we were driving over the bridge itself

This is the only remnant left of the original wall that surrounded Roman Londinium. 2000yrs ago

Horse Guards (the changing of the Guard)

Number 10 Downing St

Westminster Abby (note the CCTV camera.) They are literally everywhere.

Big Ben

The London Eye (and Jacks head)

The Palace of Westminster (and Julius head this time)

After 1 complete circuit we decided to get off at St Pauls. We found a toilet (did I tell you it was cold?) It was so cold Carey believed his hands no longer belonged to him. So a we searched for this toilet up and down outside St Pauls. The signs said it was there but we could not find it. But we did find a very tame squirrel.

So here we again have a squirrel picture.

Eventually we found the way down to the Crypt of the cathedral, where there is a very nice coffee shop. (sounds kind of creepy doesn’t it) We all had hot chocolates and felt immediately better.

Then we walked. Down to the river Thames and along the water front till we saw Tower bridge and the Tower of London.

The group with Tower Bridge in the background

At the Tower we discovered a quick food place that the boys decided was perfect for a late lunch. While I waited for them, this magnificent piece of motoring excellence drove up.

Aston Martin DB9. Drooooool!

We walked around the front of the Tower and saw Traitors Gate, where, when the river was higher, people entered the Tower by boat, often never to leave.

The daylight was getting slim and we decided to head back to the Hotel before it got any colder so we took the bus to the Embankment and the boys decided they would like to walk from there so we walked to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street and back to the Hotel. 

The Muggles tour

Some of the students decided that while in the land of Harry Potter they would take an opportunity to see London from a wizards perspective. However they also were able to see other things as well. The group walked through Trafalgar Square and went to the London eye.

Matthew Brandon (with that hat) and Liam (also with hat)

Georgina and Jack with that blue chook (Trafalgar Square)

Liam with his Hat in the London Eye

Robert and Matthew also in the London Eye

Georgina and Jack in the London eye also

The Muggles tour Group

Sebastian at platform 93/4

Georgina at platform 93/4

Everyone had a great time and the reports are that the man who ran the tour really knew his “stuff”, but so did our group, with Theo being able to answer even the most curly of the questions thrown at them.